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Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category

Easter Monday

easter-monday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was officially celebrated yesterday. He is risen. He is risen indeed!

But what about today – the day after? What different does it make? Do we simply go back to business as usual? I’m certain the first disciples of Jesus asked the same questions.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead changed everything. It means that Jesus is who He claims to be: the way, the truth, and the life – the only way to God the Father; God in human flesh; the sinless Savior; the King of kings and Lord of lords. It means that Jesus accomplished His mission – to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). It means our preaching and faith are real and mean something; that we are correctly representing God; and it means that our sins are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:12-20).

Christ’s resurrection permeates the New Testament. You couldn’t get away from it if you tried. In fact, in the epistle to the Philippians Paul desired “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (3:10). He wanted to know Christ in a deeper way and experience the power that raised Him from the dead. He also knew that as he did, he would display that power in his own life. Jesus’ resurrection has an impact on everything.

Easter Monday is a reminder that even though our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection has passed (we should actually celebrate it very Lord’s Day), it’s a reality every day. Our very justification (Rom. 4:25) and every other blessing of God comes to us by His grace as a result of the resurrection (1 Pet. 1:3).

Resurrection Day has passed. The reality and results remain. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

 

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Easter2017.png

The uncertainty and despair of Saturday dissolved as light broke on the horizon Sunday morning. The tomb of Jesus was empty, the stone rolled away, and the Roman seal broken. The angels announced to the woman who had come to the tomb, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matt. 28:5-7).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead bodily (that is, in the same, yet different, physical body He had before His death). His resurrection is the most important and dramatic event in human history. But what was accomplished by His resurrection?

Here are just a few of them:

  • It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies (Job 19:25-27; Ps. 16:10).
  • It fulfilled His own prophecies (Matt. 17:9; Luke 18:31-33).
  • It confirmed His deity (Rom. 1:4).
  • It demonstrated the perfection of Jesus’ obedience to the will of His Father (John 10:18-19).
  • It was proof that the Father accepted the atoning work of Christ (Rom. 4:25).
  • It provides regeneration for the elect (1 Pet. 1:3).
  • It provides assurance that the sins of believers are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
  • It declares that He is Head of the church and ruler of all creation (Eph. 1:19-23; Col. 1:15-19).
  • It secures justification for believers and the assurance that they will never be condemned by God (Rom. 8:1-11, 31-34).
  • It guarantees the future bodily resurrection of all believers (John 5:26-29; 14:19; Rom. 4:25; 6:5-10; 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
  • It guarantees Christ will judge the world (John 5:24-30; Acts 17:31).

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

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saturday

Holy Saturday is the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, it’s a day of waiting We know “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

But consider the first disciples of Jesus – those whom He called to follow Him and those who saw Him betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, mocked, scourged, and finally crucified. They didn’t know what would happen on Sunday morning. Yes, Jesus had told them on at least four occasions, but it’s clear that it didn’t register in their hearts and minds.

Jesus – the One they loved; the One they followed; the One to whom they had dedicated their very lives; the One they knew to be precisely who He claimed to be – was dead. Their beloved was buried in a tomb guarded by sixteen Roman soldiers. The enormous stone which had been rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance was decorated with the seal of the Roman Empire.

As far as these first disciples were concerned, it was over. What was over? Everything. Their Saviour, Lord, and friend was dead and gone. Their mission was over, seemingly before it even got started. The Romans and Jewish leadership had won. What would they do now? Their lives had been forever changed, and now it seemed to be over.

No hope.

No forgiveness of sin.

No reconciliation with God.

No peace.

No salvation.

No meaning.

No justice.

No mercy.

No future.

All of that would be true if Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb. Their faith, and our faith, is vain and useless if it would have ended with the death of Jesus. That’s what the disciples faced from Friday afternoon through Saturday night.

They didn’t know the rest of the story, but we do! Holy Saturday proves the importance of Resurrection Sunday.

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Good-Friday_ss_267935090

Good Friday is the day the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died by means of crucifixion on a cross – a vicious, brutal, horrific way to die. So why do we call it “good” Friday?

Listen to the prophet Isaiah:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
and our sorrows He carried;
yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:4-6).

The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

The apostle Peter wrote: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24). 

Good Friday is good because Jesus died a death I should have died. He died as a substitutionary sacrifice for my sins, and the sins of all of His people. If that wasn’t enough, He lived a life of perfect obedience to His Father in my place. Good Friday is good because of what He accomplished, and we can rejoice in that.

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Maundy-Thursday

On Thursday of what we call “Holy Week,” Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate Passover. Before the meal commenced, the Lord Jesus – unexpectedly – washed the feet of His disciples, thereby taking the place of a servant/slave.

After Judas Iscariot had left, Jesus gave His disciples this command (“mandatum” in Latin  and “mandate” in English, hence the word “Maundy”): A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

The command is “love one another.” The Lord mentions it three times in the space of two sentences. But what does it mean to love? Although the answer isn’t directly given here, a grasp of the whole of Scriptures provides us with the answer – God’s law. We know how to love God because of what He’s commanded in His law. By the same token, we know how to love one another because of what He’s commanded in His law. Contrary to present-day sentiment, love isn’t a gassy feeling which drives our interactions with others (or with God). Our hearts are a bad guide to what’s loving and unloving. God’s law gives us a definition and description of love. It tells us how to love and how not to love. We can’t ignore God’s law or “unhitch” ourselves from it and truly love the way God has commanded us.

Maundy Thursday reminds us of the mandate to love one another. Thankfully, God has given us a blueprint (His law and Word) and a model (His Son Jesus Christ).

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The Christian History Institute published the story of forty Roman soldiers who were martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ on March 9th, 320 A.D.

“Consider—you alone of Caesar’s troops defy him! Think of the disgrace you bring upon your legion. How can you do it?” Governor Agricola was speaking to forty soldiers in the 12th Legion of the Roman army who refused to offer sacrifice to the emperor while they were stationed near Sebaste in modern-day Turkey.

“To disgrace the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is more terrible still,” replied one of the soldiers.

The governor became exasperated. “Give up this stubborn folly. You have no lord but Caesar! In his name, I promise promotion to the first of you who steps forward and does his duty.” 

When that lure did not break their ranks he increased the pressure. “You persist in your rebellion? Then prepare for torture, prison, death!”

The soldiers stood firm. “Nothing you can offer us would replace what we would lose in the next world. As for your threats—we’ve learned to deny our bodies where the welfare of our souls is at stake.”

Agricola ordered them flogged. Guards dragged the men out into the cold where they were stripped and tied to posts. Whips with hooks of iron tore the men’s sides. Unbelievably not one of the forty surrendered. “Chain them in my dungeons!” roared Agricola. He referred their case to Lysias, commander of the 12th Legion, whose coming was soon expected. When Lysias arrived he threatened a sharp penalty if the soldiers continued to disobey.

On this day, 9 March 320, the men remained respectfully defiant. A new torture occurred to Agricola. Nearby was a frozen pond. The March air was sharp. “You will stand naked on the ice until you agree to sacrifice to the gods,” he said.

The rebel soldiers tore off their own clothes and ran toward the pond in the freezing air. “We are soldiers of the Lord and fear no hardship,” shouted one. “What is our death but entrance into eternal life?” Striking up a song, they marched onto the frozen pond. Baffled, Agricola posted guards. He had baths of warm water heated as an incentive to the forty to come off the pond.

As dark closed in, the forty prayed, “Lord, there are forty of us engaged in this battle; grant that forty may be crowned and not one be missing from this sacred number.” It appeared their prayer was doomed to disappointment, however. Babbling, one of the forty crawled away from the ice. Guards helped him into a bath but the heat proved too much of a shock to his frozen system. He immediately went into convulsions and died.

However, one of the guards had seen a vision of angels with crowns hovering over the pond. Impressed by the bravery of the remaining thirty-nine, he shucked off his clothes and ran onto the ice. The martyrs numbered forty again!

When the sun rose, Agricola was told that the forty were dead. He ordered the bodies burned and their ashes dumped into a nearby river so the bones could not be collected and venerated. When the guards began stacking the stiff corpses onto a wagon, they discovered that Melito, the youngest of the soldiers, was still alive. 

Melito was a local boy. The soldiers recognized his mom nearby. “Listen, Mother, take your boy home, save his life if you can. We’ll look the other way,” they said.

“What kind of talk is that?” scolded the woman. “Would you cheat him of his crown? I’ll never let that happen!” As the wagon began to roll away, she hoisted her son in with the others.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt. 5:10-12).

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Merry Christmas!

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:8-15)

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without this:

May you truly understand the significance of what took place a little over two thousand years ago – the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas from Karen and me!

 

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